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Kickstarter of the Week – Stop Motion Love Story: Interview with the 11 Year Old Director

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 11, but I know I wasn’t directing movies. Hell, I wasn’t even standing in front of that pool. Trinity Anderson, on the other hand, has jumped into the deep end and seems to managing just fine, thank you.

The 11-year-old and her father, Barry Anderson, are wrapping up production on her latest stop-motion film (a genre she’s been at since she was 4) and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the rest of production costs. The film is titled Me & Ewe. It is a sheep love story.

I caught up with Trinity and Barry before her performance rehearsals (she’s also an actor) to talk a bit more about her project.

For the record, this is my first time interviewing an 11-year-old.

How did you get into movies and directing? How old were you and what drew you it?

Trinity: When i was 4, we went to Hawaii. I used to get up early, but where we were staying was right near a big cliff and my parents didn’t want me going outside on my own. So they got me a video camera to play with inside. I had Playmobils at the time and I used to make up stories and started using stop motion. I also really liked acting at a young age. When we go to California every summer I get to go to an Shakespeare acting camp. I’ve been doing that every year for a while now.  

Tell me a little bit about this project. What have been the biggest challenges? What have been the biggest breakthroughs?

Trinity: We had a lot of problems with the main tree in the film. As filming went on, the tree started to shed its leaves, so by the end we sort of had this giant dead tree. You can kind of see it in the film, but as it goes on we show it less and less. In the first opening shot it’s green and lush. As you watch it, it kind of dies on you. 

Our biggest breakthrough happened when we were shooting one shot and we ran out of battery. It was a long shot and we didn’t want to retake it. We were about to disassemble when we decided to see if we could recharge the battery while it was still attached to the camera. That worked, so we were able to continue.  

Barry: It was a Switronix PB70 external battery. We couldn’t have plugged it in and saved the shot had we been using a regular canon battery.

Nice. A technological breakthrough.

So tell me, how has this project help you grow as a director? What’s it like being in charge of a project and managing other people?

Trinity: This project was bigger than all the other projects. I’ve made little stop motion films with friends using the iSight on the computer, but this one used real props, real cameras. It is much better quality and we’ve spent a lot more time at at and it’s being shot in an actual studio. We’re planning to enter it in film festivals and put it online. So it’s just bigger than anything I’ve done.

As far as managing, well, we don’t have many people working on the film. Besides my dad there’s my great uncle and grandpa. My dad and I do most of the animated work, and we also have one other animation guy who is doing the background sheep. I pretty much told him what to do and he did it.

Barry: We basically spent a lot of time finding people who would put up with us.

In many ways this project is co-directed by you and your Dad. What has that been like? Has it been challenging making sure the visions are aligned?

Trinity: We have limited amount of camera angles, so there isn’t much decision there. We decide on which camera angle would be best and worked together to figure out the placements. My Dad helped a lot  with the lights. But otherwise it was pretty straightforward as to which lens we should be using. I guess I was in charge of placement of sheets.

Barry: Trinity wanted to be lead animator. We spent some time talking through the story and came up with some rough storyboards. We figured out what the scenarios would be. Once we had the story down, we agreed on things. It wasn’t a major Hollywood production — there were some limitations and once things fell into place and we put on the lens we got dialed it in. 

In the beginning I was tech guy at computer, making sure we weren’t going to fast to slow and Trinity was in charge of bringing the sheep to life on the screen. But once she got over her intimidation of the technology, she had no problem assuming that role, too!

Artists and creatives often get asked “who or what are your influences?” Influences can be other artists or directors, it can be books or a series of books, movies or a series of movies. Who or what are your influences?

Trinity: I always wanted to work in movies. For a short time I went through an archeology phase, but my Dad has always been directing movies, so really I’d have to say my Mom and Dad. Aside from them I really like Stephen Speilberg and his movies like Jaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Indiana Jones. I also like It’s a Wonderful Life and some other black and white films like, Maltese Falcon, The Navigator and Some Like it Hot.

I really enjoy comedy. Movies that aren’t funny aren’t my favorite. Buster Keaton has been an influence for me. I do some circus performance and he’s really made my comedy better. 

Do you have a particular favorite stop motion director of film?

Trinity: Nightmare before Christmas. But I also really like A Town Called Panic. It’s a French film. It uses a real unique animation form. It’s different and it fits the story. 

I also like the Fantastic Mr Fox. The models are good and I love the voices of the actors. Also the score is beautiful. Our test score is mostly taken from that movie. It was done by Alexandre Desplat [who did Argo]. We actually sent him an email to see if he’d do the score for our movie, but we haven’t heard anything yet. 

Wow. Let’s hope he comes through. That would be something. 

We have a lot of gear heads who read the blog. They’re going to want to know a little bit about the gear you use in the film. 

Barry: For cameras we used two Canon 5D Mark II’s. We’re using Dragonframe software to do the actual animation. It’s been used in a lot of features. It’s powerful and not that expensive.

Trinity: It’s great because it’s not as complicated as some programs, but it’s not so simple that it can’t do all the things you want. It’s really the perfect medium. The other cool thing about the project is that most of the lighting is done with lights we got at Home Depot.

Barry: We used to 1K source lights with soft boxes, but every other light was a Home Depot light. We built a grid over the field and used everything from 15 watt up to 300 watt, both clear and frosted.

Trinity: And a lot of gaffe tape. 

To help Trinity and Barry finish their project, contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, here.

Here are some behind-the-scenes stills from the set of Me & Ewe. Enjoy:

So You Want to Be a Commercial Photographer? Here’s How… [Joey L on creativeLIVE]

Update: It’s official now, I’m dropping in as a guest on JoeyL’s show TODAY at 10:45 Seattle Time (1:45 NYC; 18:45 London). Join us – ask questions. I just was sent over the topics he’s going to grill me on and I haven’t given an interview this in-depth about commercial photography in more than a year. Tune in HERE to watch…

Occasionally I hand pick certain people that I’d like to see on creativeLIVE. Joey L is one of those people — and starting NOW, AND for the next 3 days, he’s going to be sharing everything he can muster about his approach to commercial portrait photography and personal projects. Specifically he will be walking photographs from concept, thru lighting, posing, shooting and post production…and doing it all LIVE (so you can ask questions) and FREE.

Why did I choose JoeyL?
Here’s 3 reasons you should watch:
1. Few photographers today know how to make the pictures they see in their mind. But Joey can do this as well or better than any long standing pro – he turns his vision into reality. In truth this is one of the hardest things for people trying to “make it” as a photographer, and Joey shows you how.

2. Professional photography is more than just capturing the image. This is the simple secret that few people know. It’s about 3 distinct steps… planning for the picture, taking the picture and then making it come to life in post production. In this course, Joey walks you thru all 3 steps with flair.

3. Combination of hard work and technical execution. Most photographers I see in the world have one of these keys, but not both. You can’t succeed with just hustle and yet having shitty technique. And you can’t succeed by being a genius technician without any hustle. JoeyL exudes both of these, and you’ll be able to learn the balance of these in action by watching him.

So check it out. (I’ll be roaming around off set for 2 of the 3 days, maybe even drop in. Hope to see you.)

Resister FREE here to get updates and info about the class each day
Just drop in LIVE here anytime here.

joey L on creativeLIVE

Photo Geeks + Space Nerds Unite — Beautiful, Never Before Seen 360 Degree Images of Mercury

Photo geeks and space nerds unite. Saw this and had to share it. This is the first time mankind has ever seen the planet Mercury in its entirety. Scientists used thousands of images collected for over a year by the MESSENGER probe to completely map the surface of the planet, taken at a resolution of 1km per pixel.

The yellow-orange sections are highly volcanic lava plains, and the dark blue areas are assumed to be minerals.

Watch the planet spin a complete 360 degrees and read more about the process HERE.

Serious credit goes to those slackers at NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and the Carnegie Institution of Washington for the images.

Stop Creating False Barriers Between You & The Photos You Want to Take [aka Going to the End of the Earth to Get the Shot]

Are you pursuing your personal passions to get the pictures you want, or are you letting…ahem…”too many obstacles” stop you?

Here’s a little inspiration. Using a weather balloon, a Gopro 2, a Multiplex Funjet and some other lo-fi equipment, David Windestål decided to get some first person footage of a trip to space. What he ends up with is an awesome video of the camera’s trip into orbit, and a ton of inspiration for the rest of us. Sure he could massaged the footage and edited differently / better. But whatever. In this post its the spirit that counts. Because truth be told, he’s doing cool shit. And you…?

The takeaway is this: you might not be as handy as David with a soldering iron, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. The point is to stop creating false barriers between you and what you want to be taking pictures of…

Take that project that you’ve pushed off… decided is “too difficult” or “too expensive” or “too [whatever]” and hack into it. If you can find step by step instructions on how to send a camera into space with a couple of mouse clicks, what else might you figure out how to do with a little elbow grease and that good, ol’fashioned get-off-your-ass-and-do-it attitude adjustment?

Photo Kickstarter o’ the Week – The Rocket Travel Slider

“Sliders and dollies help you tell your story with beautiful camera moves.” So sayeth filmmaker Zeke Kamm of Nice Industries. Hard to argue with that statement. Well-placed, well-executed dolly shots increase production value, no question there. They can also increase production time and total gear load, as traditional sliders are bulky and a bitch to set up.

That’s where Kamm’s Rocket Travel Slider comes in. Capable of delivering up to 10 foot long, smooth dolly shots, the Rocket Travel Slider sets up in minutes and breaks down into a tight little travel package the size of a shoe box. Schlepers rejoice: the Rocket Base Kit (sled w/ mount, wheels, bar ends) weighs in at a scant 3 1/2 lbs. Not bad for a slider that can support up to 45 lbs.

Kamm + Co. have developed a set of 2 lb., 6-foot-long set of carbon fiber rails to go with the Rocket Base Kit called the Rocket Travel Tracks. They break down into 24 inch lengths and come with their own padded bag. But for those traveling videographers who really want to go light, the Base Kit wheels will work with any EMT pipe that you can grab at most hardware stores. Meaning you can travel to location with just the Base Kit and load up the tracks once you’ve touched down — you’ll probably pay around $10 at most stores (but you’ll be saving on airline oversized baggage costs).

A $425 pledge gets you the Base Kit, which is roughly $100 less than list + shipping. Want to donate and dolly? Pledge here.

(Cy)Eyeborgs, Slingshots & Skeletons: 3 Minutes of Filmmaking Pays Out $200,000


GE’s Focus Forward films are 3-minute documentaries featuring some the world’s most exceptional and innovative people presenting their ideas and inventions. Each year the project awards $200,000 to winners of the Filmmaker Competition, many of which have their 3-minute films premiered at Sundance. You’re gonna wanna take a few minutes and enjoy one or two of these.

As an example — in the Grand Prize winning film — Neil Harbisson, who was born with achromatopsia (a rare condition that causes complete color blindness) works with another inventor to create the “eyeborg,” an invention that translates color into sound. He wears this device on his head and it literally scans the world for color and transforms it into musical notes through a pair of earbuds. He is considered the first recognized cyborg in the world. I’d say director Rafel Duran Torrent nailed it. [Best line from the winning film: "It is very human to modify one's body with human creations."]

I’ve included the other four winners below. Certainly GE is aiming to connect the dots… their brand + innovation … but kudos to them for supporting supporting filmmakers to do it, and for rewarding them handsomely in the process.

2nd Place
The Artificial Leaf | Jared P. Scott + Kelly Nyks

3rd Place
Slingshot | Paul Lazarus

4th Place
Bones Don’t Lie and Don’t Forget | Kim Munsamy

5th Place
Mine Kafon | Callum Cooper

Take My Art! Jay Shells + The Rap Lyric Street Sign Project

Documentary makes the impermanent permanent. It’s a satisfactory compromise for street artist Jason Shelowitz (AKA Jay Shells), whose ‘Rap Quotes’ project has the longevity of a fruit fly or a sand castle at low tide.

Inspired by many rappers’ tendency to work the streets, blocks and parks of their upbringing into their lyrics, Shells decided to turn those shout-outs into official-looking street signs and hang them up at those specific street corners and locations. So the line “I’m blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle” from Mos Def’s track ‘Champion Requiem’ got printed on a sign and hung at that street corner, a section of Brooklyn where the rapper grew up.

If you watch the film, you can see Shells is only securing the signs with hand-tightened nuts and bolts. He openly acknowledges that most of the signs likely won’t even stay up through the day and doesn’t care. Quite the opposite in fact. Imagining some hip hop fan coming across the sign, Shells says, “Fuck it, it’s my gift to you. Go take ‘em.”

Watching the video, I’m just as taken by the artist as I am the art. There’s an exhilaration — a giddiness, almost — apparent in Shells as he bounces from location to location, climbing his little step stool, snapping photos and thwarting the police. His creative energy is contagious – that my friends – is the energy that you give off when you make something you care about. Irrepressible.

Rap Quotes is a reminder to make stuff. At least part of you has to say feed the beast, fuck the money or you’ll never get anything off the ground.

MoVI Camera Stabilizer from FreeFly Cinema Looking Good To Revolutionize Camera Stabilization

Last week we checked out the Supraflux Video Camera Stabilizer, a small stabilizer that has been lighting up kick-starter, already making over double their goal with almost a month left. Today we’ve got the other side of the spectrum with the MoVi from my very good friends Tabb and Hugh at Firefly Systems. I’ve used these guy for several years now as go-to help for aerial RC choppers and other fun toys… but in the past week they’ve dropped a much more hi-tech entry that’s already built a lot of worthy buzz as the next big thing in camera stabilization. I got the early tip, but was swamped so Tabb & co went way down stream (j/k Vincent ;) to work w my dear friend Vincent and take the MōVI for a test drive. Vince gave it his seal of approval, especially praising its short learning curve + ability to quickly make both simple and complex shots. My favorite part is the separation of the camera carrying from the camera pointing function. Don’t know what I mean? Check out their video… one guy handles the camera, the other guy steers the tilt / pan (ie what the camera sees). Genius! The video below will give you a solid idea of just how smooth the MōVI is, and might make you look at handhelds with a new respect.

Using a 3 axis gyroscope to stabilize the camera, the MōVI system is portable and lightweight (3.5 pounds), making Scorsese-like shots a breeze. You can also manipulate the camera motion remotely by a second operator via joystick. Unfortunately the only real negative so far might be a deal-breaker; it’s currently priced at $15,000. Rumors have a $7,500 option coming soon, which is a little more manageable. The good news is, with technology like this breaking, you can bet a more consumer friendly option is on its way. Even more below for more of the MōVI in action.

DOing + MAKING Always Trumps Talking About It. Cool Vid Here.

Superfun piece here. Reverse motion isn’t a new technique by any stretch, but it doesn’t need to be. Messe Kopp had a cool idea and executed it – turned out fun and cool. And above all, he went and CREATED something, versus sitting around talking about it.

Great example of being creative on a low budget. #respect

Check out more of Messe Kopp’s stuff here:

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The track is called “White Lies” by Fred V & Grafix, you can get the single here.

Join Me! LIVE in a Google Hangout from Aspen Talking Photography, Music, SXSW and more…. with Robert Scoble & Chris Davenport.

UPDATE: here’s a recording of our chat…above! Thanks to all of you who watched live.
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LIVE today at 9:30 PDT, 10:30 Aspen, 12:30 NYT, 17:30 London right here on the blog or on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/chasejarvis.

I’m smack dab in the middle of shooting next year’s campaign for Aspen (last years BTS video here with octocopers and wicked visuals) but had the morning off and managed to wrangle a couple friends for a live Google Hangout to discuss a bunch of questions that have come across my desk in the last week about the Aspen/Snowmass campaign (helicopters and photography), my new favorite music, the democratization of technology and a few other odds and ends that you will find of interest. Joining me is one of the key talent for my Aspen shoot, one of the world’s best skiers, Chris Davenport, the tech guru Robert Scoble (fresh outta SXSW) and the digital maven here in Aspen, David Amirault.

Photographing with Remote Helis & World Class Athletes in Crazy Locations — Behind-the-Scenes in Aspen

Using the Force


Remember last year’s Aspen campaign? Well, we’re back at it again this year with even better conditions. We’ve been up before dawn and burning the midnight oil. Out the door right now – but stay tuned via social channels to follow along. In the meantime here’s a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos. Enjoy.

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Photo: Scott Rinckenberger

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Photo: Andrew Price

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Photo: Andrew Price

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Photo: Andrew Price

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Chris Davenport shows Scotty his backyard

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Photo: Andrew Price

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Photo: Andrew Price

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Photo: Scott Rinckenberger

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Photo: Jerard

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Photo: Jerard

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Safety first: Davenport digs a pit to check snow stability

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Chris Davenport - Professional at crushing it for the camera.

Digging Out — 30-Hour Timelapse of Northeast Storm NEMO… in 1 Minute

Nemo Timelapse from jere7my tho?rpe on Vimeo.

Pounded with as much as three feet of snow on Friday and Saturday, the Northeast, and especially New England, USA was basically buried by the storm called NEMO.

The region’s residents are still digging out, navigating roads lined by tall walls of snow, dealing with school closures and power outages. But for photographers – these storms bring rare opportunity. The internet has been alive with Nemo shots for days. From the empty and silent streets of Boston and New York, to the awesome 30-hour time lapse of the storm (above) on an unnamed Boston street, there is some unique imagery that comes from these storms. This timelapse captures the storm, more or less start to finish, in 1 minute. Enjoy! Created by Vimeo user: jere7my tho?rpe.

The Lumineers Perform ‘Ho Hey’ on chasejarvisLIVE at the Capitol Hill Block Party [2013 Grammy Nominees]

If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m a big Lumineers fan. They’ve been on my radar for a while and are one of my favorites right now. My friend John Richards from Seattle’s KEXP first brought The Lumineers to my attention. John, along with their manager Dave, gave me the head’s up that these guys had the special sauce. So we had them on chasejarvisLIVE back in April 2012. It was a very special episode and clear to everyone on the set that we were witnessing something extraordinary.

Not only did my friends assure me they would be great – but the band also had a story of following their dreams and mixing their enormous talent with a lot of hard work. Tons of hard work makes the “overnight success” happen. The results have taken the world by storm. Shortly after appearing on chaesjarvisLIVE they went on to do Jay Leno and then David Letterman. Then they were back in Seattle last summer for Capitol Hill Block Party and gave another amazing performance that we filmed and that I’m sharing with you today.

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